I received some mail about the Hour of Code last year around this time. I had no idea what it was and I was barely interested in it, but I looked through it because I’m always looking for new things to add to my technology curriculum. I went to the website and watched the intro videos and started working through the activities. It took a few minutes, but I was hooked and I knew my students would be too. The Hour of Code introduces students to a skill they might not know they have; the extended linear thinking necessary to work through a problem.
I worked through the first hour and set up classes to use in my classroom immediately. I didn’t know much about coding yet, but I knew more than them, and that’s all I needed.
What was amazing when my students started working on it was the variety of students who took to it. I knew the bright kids would do fine, but even some of the students that, shall we say, “struggle” were able to grasp the concepts and really excel at this task. Since they so rarely get to be good at something in school, they embraced it all the more. It made me so happy to see them excel. A student that is often suspended was one of my assistants who I would ask to help others when they ran into trouble. I didn’t have much to do with it, but I know that particular student felt really good in my classroom.
The big push with Hour of Code is coming up again next month, during Computer Science Education Week, which this year is December 8-14. They have expanded the website to include lots of activities that go deeper than the Hour of Code. They even have differentiated it for younger kids, with limited amount of reading necessary to include the tasks.
It’s a year later, and I have now included a lot of programming lessons in my curriculum, and I think the kids love it. They see how this will be a skill they could actually use. I learned a lot, but I have so much more to learn. I presented my lessons at a few conferences, and the feedback has been very positive. I recommend any and every one to try it. It sounds scary, but trust me, it’s actually fun. Being a geek can be cool.